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Public Employee Unions: mechanism forcing taxpayers to fund Democrats

Whereas various liberal commentators and left-of-center bloggers have contended, to borrow the mild language of CNN’s Roland S. Martin, that Governor Walker seeks to “to end the collective bargaining rights of the various public employees“, that Republican, in fact, in the words of Ed Morrissey proposes only “to limit collective bargaining to wages only — not policy and work environment issues — and to end the ‘closed shop’ in the government sector.

Walker is not, as some have suggested, trying to bust unions, but merely standing up for the state’s taxpayers against public employee unions.  And those unions, as Michael Barone reminds us, siphon money from taxpayers and into the hands of the Democrats:

Follow the money, Washington reporters like to say. The money in this case comes from taxpayers, present and future, who are the source of every penny of dues paid to public employee unions, who in turn spend much of that money on politics, almost all of it for Democrats. In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party.

It’s Barone, read the whole thing.  Would the Democrats and their media allies be fighting so hard if Walker and his fellow elected Republicans weren’t challenging a mainstay of Democratic campaign finance?  There is, as I noted before, a clear conflict of interest when public employee unions engaging in politicking.

Let’s hope that the media firestorm generated by Governor Walker’s modest proposal will cause us to promote an open debate about such politicking.  Recall that in the California gubernatorial race last fall, much ado was made of Republican nominee Meg Whitman pouring tens of millions of her own funds into her campaign, but little reporting was done about the tens of millions public employee unions poured into the campaign of her opponent (and his Democratic allies).

We need pay more attention to their influence.  As Barone did in the piece above, Peter Ferrara also does so in his piece reminding us that liberal icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt opposed collective bargaining for public employees (via Instapundit).  Jennifer Rubin helps us distinguish between “between collective bargaining in the public sector and that in the private sector.”  These folks have begun the conversation.  Let’s hope that the hullabaloo over Governor Walker’s sensible reforms gives such views a wider hearing.

More on this anon.  Much more.

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20 Comments

  1. Even when the teachers’ union used collective bargaining to bring in their own created medical insurance company, they gamed the system.

    The Wisconsin Education Association Council, the largest teachers union in the state, has siphoned millions of extra $$$’s from ”the children” to their own union-created health insurance system.

    The WEA Trust offers very high cost health coverage to schools.
    And, as a union shop, the WEA Trust uses some of the money for political action, just like other unions do.

    Most of the districts with the most expensive health premiums in the state are clients of WEA Trust.

    Most of the districts with the lowest premiums do business with other insurance carriers.

    Gov. Walker recently cited WEA Trust as the #1 reason for collective bargaining reform as many Wisconsin school boards consider themselves stuck with expensive WEA Trust health coverage.

    Comment by Nan G — February 23, 2011 @ 7:16 pm - February 23, 2011

  2. Walker was staging “an assault on unions,” he [Obama] said, and added that “public employee unions make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens.”

    Dearest Progressives,

    Educate us on the enormous contributions “public employment unions” make to our states and our citizens.

    This should be a piece of cake. Cut and paste away from any source you like. Just be ready, willing and able to defend your lengthy, but concise list.

    Five ….. four …… three …… two ……. one ……. go!!!!

    Comment by Heliotrope — February 23, 2011 @ 7:33 pm - February 23, 2011

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    Pingback by Tweets that mention GayPatriot » Public Employee Unions: mechanism forcing taxpayers to fund Democrats -- Topsy.com — February 23, 2011 @ 7:38 pm - February 23, 2011

  4. At the risk of echoing my comment the other day (thanks for the tip Dan)… I just gotta love how this whole thing crystallizes the leftie agenda.

    Democrats == Minions of public employee unions who bankrupt States with their over-funded pensions and benefits while taxpayers struggle; and who then literally, physically flee to other States when it’s time to clean up.

    Republicans == Not perfect, but the only plausible home for the nation’s budget cutters.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — February 23, 2011 @ 8:14 pm - February 23, 2011

  5. When are these guys on the Left gonna offer something new? I mean we all know collective bargaining is supposed to help unions get workers more of the profits they help create. OK, that all sounds good, but there’s just one small problem. Liberals are forgetting government workers don’t generate a dime’s worth of profit for their employers. In fact the unions go out of their way to negotiate for more of the tax money we must pay in to the state. By the way, will someone please tell them FDR was against collective bargaining. In fact Roosevelt called it, “unthinkable and intolerable”, because he believed collective bargaining meant the voters didn’t have the final say so on public policy.

    I gotta tell ya, for once I agree with FDR… I’m saying that, because when it comes to a decision on spending and policy, it’s not right for our elected representatives to make the final choice after negotiating with union bosses. It’s the people ( that’s you and me along with everyone else) who should be the final decision makers.

    Hell, back in the day, even the AFL-CIO’s own George Meany once said, “It is impossible to bargain collectively with government.” I didn’t make this up, check your history books, because up until the late 50s that remained the case… that is, until unions were able to get enough legislators sympathetic to their demands voted into office, so by 1959, Wisconsin’s state house had been bought and paid for with union money; making it possible for collective bargaining in government.

    Unions now, like then, can insist on laws that serve their interests, at the expense of the common good. For example, union contracts for government employees make it impossible to reward the excellent teachers, and they prevent the lousy teachers from getting fired. The unions demand government employees get gold-plated benefits, at a cost of higher taxes and a cut in spending on other public programs…… Not for nothing, but I’d like a Democrat to decide which kids in Wisconsin deserve to be kicked off Medicaid or have their school lunches taken away in order to give their teacher an additional personal day?

    The governor in Wisconsin is looking to reassert “voter” control over government. And why shouldn’t he? It’s the voter who’s paying for the services. When each voter goes into that booth on election day, he’s not doing it to give a union boss the power to pick and choose what’s best for him. Instead, voters elect representatives to vote the people’s conscience when deciding how the people’s tax money is spent.

    Back 1959, something else made history. It was when the AFL-CIO Executive Council clearly said, “In terms of accepted collective bargaining procedures, government workers have no right beyond the authority to petition Congress; a right available to every citizen.”

    Comment by Spartann — February 23, 2011 @ 8:15 pm - February 23, 2011

  6. Educate us on the enormous contributions “public employment unions” make to our states and our citizens.

    Well Heliotrope, they sure know how to spend. And how to get better pensions than everyone else. Surely there’s an educational value?

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — February 23, 2011 @ 8:17 pm - February 23, 2011

  7. Two reactions:

    1st: folks are just now figuring out this incestuous money cycle? It’s rather like the rude shock one faces upon discovering birds that fly.

    2d: Understand the Soviet Union operated on the same principle: more for the leaders, some for the prols, none for the non-party members. And everyone got mediocre service/products.

    Wisconsin is just a border skirmish. The real battle will be with the unionistas working at the Federal level.

    Comment by DaveO — February 23, 2011 @ 9:44 pm - February 23, 2011

  8. Let’s see…government contracts with defense contractors – how much of that money goes to lobby to get more?

    The Koch brothers – How much have they benefited from government contracts and then used money from their fortunes to work to kill the middle class in this country? In relation to the events in Wisconsin, check out this little article from Forbes. seems that a tucked away piece of legislation, by republicans, could serve to hide and subvert a sound government fiscal policy that could possibly further enrich 2 brothers in the energy industry:

    http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/02/22/a-secret-deal-between-gov-walker-and-koch-brothers-buried-in-state-budget/

    Comment by Kevin — February 23, 2011 @ 10:01 pm - February 23, 2011

  9. incestuous money cycle

    Let’s call it what it is: Money Laundering. Anybody else would go to prison.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — February 23, 2011 @ 10:37 pm - February 23, 2011

  10. How much have they benefited from government contracts and then used money from their fortunes to work to kill the middle class in this country?

    How much have the unions spent to kill jobs, push others overseas, raise taxes, increase government spending, interfere in multiple state’s redistricting issues etc.?

    http://tinyurl.com/4fmc9mg

    How much of those millions of dollars spent was taxpayer money?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — February 23, 2011 @ 10:50 pm - February 23, 2011

  11. [...] BlogRelated posts on PublicNRDC List: Top 15 Metro Regions for Public Transportation …GayPatriot » Public Employee Unions: mechanism forcing taxpayers …City officials and public weigh in on proposed gang injunction [...]

    Pingback by Hotair: Time to abolish public employee unions? | Katy Pundit — February 24, 2011 @ 8:29 am - February 24, 2011

  12. Defense jobs are almost entirely American jobs. It’s Obama’s bailouts of the banking and auto industries that have resulted in billions in tax dollars going to create jobs in foreign countries.

    But, of course, that’s perfectly OK with his dumb supporters because he decided to stop enforcing DOMA.

    Comment by V the K — February 24, 2011 @ 8:55 am - February 24, 2011

  13. Hi Dan,
    “Whereas various liberal commentators and left-of-center bloggers have contended, to borrow the mild language of CNN’s Roland S. Martin, that Governor Walker seeks to “to end the collective bargaining rights of the various public employees“, that Republican, in fact, in the words of Ed Morrissey proposes only “to limit collective bargaining to wages only — not policy and work environment issues — and to end the ‘closed shop’ in the government sector.””

    What interests me about that claim is that Mr. Morrissey uses the word “only.” And he is able to do it with a straight face. Given that CB revolves around wages, benefits, and work conditions, it seems a kind of deeply ironic word to use. After all, as Section 188 of the proposed Assembly Bill 11 in WI says (hat-tip, VK), wanting to amend Section 111.70 (1) (a) of WI law dealing with the original conditions of collective bargaining:

    ““Collective bargaining” means… to meet and confer at reasonable times, in good faith, with the intention of reaching an agreement, or to resolve questions arising under such an agreement, with respect to wages, hours, and conditions of employment for public safety employees and with respect to wages for general municipal employees, …”
    http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Wisconsin_Assembly_Bill_11,_the_%22Scott_Walker_Budget_Repair_Bill%22_%282011%29#Section_4., visited 24 February 2011

    And with regards to wages for other public employees–only to bargain for CPI increases alone.

    What exactly is there left for many public sector unions in WI to bargain about? And if one gets rid of the closed shop, what role does a union play? Given the existence of the free rider problem, there is no long term functional role left for a union. So, how exactly is this not EFFECTIVELY busting a union? It has the name “union” but none of the powers of a union. I am left with the conclusion that Mr. Morrissey’s claim is “disingenuous” as that term was defined by ILC on a different thread (i.e., true statement, made insincerely or calculatingly).

    Comment by Cas — February 24, 2011 @ 12:24 pm - February 24, 2011

  14. Cas, you do get at the one big problem of right-to-work laws, that of the free rider, someone who works in a union shop, but refuses to join the union, the organization helping negotiate for his wages and benefits.

    As I understand it (please correct me if I’m wrong) that some right-to-work states require non-union employees (in a union shop) to pay the collective bargaining costs instead of full union dues.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — February 24, 2011 @ 12:31 pm - February 24, 2011

  15. Hi Dan,
    “As I understand it (please correct me if I’m wrong) that some right-to-work states require non-union employees (in a union shop) to pay the collective bargaining costs instead of full union dues.”

    I have no idea. I will see if I can find something out about it.

    Comment by Cas — February 24, 2011 @ 1:02 pm - February 24, 2011

  16. Hi Dan,
    Here are some stats:
    “State union shares are also correlated with “agency shop” rules. Agency shop rules require workers to either join the union or pay a fee to the union. Today, 28 states have agency shop rules, while 22 are “right-to-work” states where workers cannot be forced to join a union or pay union fees. Right-to-work states generally have much lower union shares in their workforces.” http://www.cato.org/pubs/tbb/tbb_61.pdf.

    Digging some more, http://www.nrtw.org/a/a_1_s.htm
    “Question: Can I be required to be a union member or pay dues to a union?

    Answer: You cannot be required to be a union member in any state.

    A number of states have passed laws which either require, or authorize public employers and labor unions to negotiate agreements which require, all employees to either join the union or pay the equivalent of union dues as a condition of employment.

    However, as a result of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), a First Amendment lawsuit that was supported by the Foundation, public employees cannot be required to do more than pay a union fee (typically called an “agency fee”) that equals their share of what the union can prove is its costs of collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment.

    Except in extraordinary cases, the union’s costs of collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment do not equal the dues amount.”

    The only thing I am not clear on is whether or not a worker in this situation would also be expected to pay funds to support possible strike support funds. Since the ability to strike and sustain one is central to a union’s bargaining power, its absence might seriously hamper an union’s ability to do its job.

    Also, if this information is true, it increases my puzzlement as to why Gov Walker is doing what he is doing. People apparently have choices as to how to deal with potential union membership that don’t require annual recertifications of the majority of the entire eligible union members (something I have suggested would be next to impossible to pull off). They don’t have to join a union, it appears. I am more and more convinced that this situation has less to do with budgetary concerns than with Gov. Walker’s ideological concerns.

    What do you think?

    Comment by Cas — February 24, 2011 @ 1:57 pm - February 24, 2011

  17. Cas,

    I think part of the issue is, in my experience, recovering premiums from unions is difficult at best, Byzantine at worse.

    Part of What gov Walker’s bill does is takes the state out of the dues collection business, making it not a matter of getting your money back from the Union, but making it the Union’s task to collect it from you.

    Comment by The_Livewire — February 24, 2011 @ 2:16 pm - February 24, 2011

  18. Hi TL,
    OK, if “part of the issue” is getting the state out of the dues collecting business, what is the rest of it, given what I have found out?

    Also, I am assuming from what you have said that you had difficulties in this very regard. What was it about the premium recovery process that made it difficult to accomplish for you?

    Comment by Cas — February 24, 2011 @ 4:05 pm - February 24, 2011

  19. This was 20 years ago so I’m running on memory (we all know how reliable that is).

    To get part of the initial (higher) dues refunded, I had to attend a meeting. One they didn’t announce and was strangely enough, scheduled when there were a bunch of newbies scheduled to work.

    Also we had a rash of ‘cash imbalances’ in tills. It’s what got me fired eventually. The shop stewards did a collective shrug. Later I found out that one of the people who checked in the tills was stealing from them. Not so much a single contact from the union. They had gotten their pound of flesh from this 19 year old, so frak it.

    I’d also point out that the AFL CIO appoints their shop stewards and union staff, and were so in bed with the management at Big Bear that the Columbus warehouse staff voted to disband the union. My dad was (and is) extremely pro union, but he led the charge to leave the AFL CIO.

    Because of non-compete clauses, the new mini union had to wait 3 years to join the Teamsters

    Comment by The_Livewire — February 25, 2011 @ 7:47 am - February 25, 2011

  20. Hi TL,
    Thanks for the update. Sounded pretty horrific. Sorry it happened to you.

    Comment by Cas — February 27, 2011 @ 9:20 pm - February 27, 2011

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